shower faucet still leaks after changing bibb washer and valve seat

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by carlegeo, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. carlegeo

    carlegeo New Member

    Oct 2, 2011

    1. have from time to time had the bibb washer and sometimes valve seat
    changed on hot side due to slow drip from hot side of a standup shower (not witha tub) with separate
    hot and cold sides -- and the leak had stopped. (has always been hot side)

    2. cold side was changed about 6 years ago but so far it was the hot side.

    3. when the stem was taken out, the hot side bibb washer (washer at the end of the stem) was either badly worn or
    had disintegrated, which I realize does happen.

    4. however, with recent leak, yesterday when they took out the stems on both
    hot and cold side, the bibb washer was not badly damaged, though I realize it
    does not have to be for leak to happen - am just pointing out difference from in the past.

    5. they changed the valve seat and wrapped plumbers tape around the valve seat threads
    that screw into valve body - I realize not all approve of this, but noticed that the
    valve seat from the cold side still had some of that tape on it from 6 years before.

    (it was the same person who did the work 6 years before as did the work yesterday,
    but they have not done it in between, that was someone else who I know and trust)

    6. long story short, the leak has not stopped and in fact has become worse since they
    did this work. I have tried tightening the handles a lot, and then backing off some
    but does not help.

    7. The person who did it is not a licensed plumber but does do this work all the time
    and seemed to know what they were doing. I am guessing that 6 years ago they solved the problem then but can't remember.

    8. When I pointed out to them that the leak had not stopped, they became agitated and angry,
    and said they thought there was a crack or problem in the valve body itself,
    which I realize would mean that wall would need to be opened up and all sorts
    of major work and the shower is a self enclosed one piece one.

    9. the original leak was not a lot and varied based on just how we tightened and retightened
    the faucet handles after each shower, and I probably should have let it be.

    ===> Questions

    1. is this scenario possible, that this time, its not the bibb washer or valve seat
    but problem with the valve body or something else ?

    ( I do recall long ago getting an estimate from someone else on a similar leak and they
    said without looking at anything that it was valve body and big
    job, but back then it turned out just to be needing to change bibb washer and valve seat.)

    2. should I get someone to at least take out the stems and examine
    placement of the washers and to take out valve seat and see if their
    work was ok and then put back in just to see if the work yesterday
    was not done correctly ?

    3. for standup showers, is there a concept of grinding the valve seat area, or is that
    just for sink type faucets ? I have not seen this referenced in postings or articles
    about repairing shower faucet stems.

    Sorry for a long post, am not able to do the work myself but on low income/unemployed
    so this whole thing is stressful, especially with them getting so angry and upset,
    besides the leak getting worse (I would have settled for it just being the same amount
    of leak as before had I known about this outcome)

    Thanks for your advice.
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Aug 31, 2004
    San Diego, CA
    1) Yes
    2) Yes
    3) I have not heard of grinding the seat area of the body. If there was a crack, I don't see how this would help. The crack should be visible under a nice bright LED torch, and the area cleaned well.
    I have seen folks recommend reinstalling the seats with JB Weld, or silicone. I have never done that, as it would be a "permanent" and possibly "fatal" procedure. If the body is really cracked, you will just have to bite the bullet. But that is rare. I would definitely take it all apart ( both hot and cold) clean everything well, and use new washers and seats "just because". I do use a very narrow wrap ( 1 turn) of teflon tape. Not all agree with that. Be very careful the teflon is not wrapped over the top of the seat.
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  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Aug 17, 2004
    Bothell, Washington
    I would remove the seat, get rid of all the tape, and then re-install with pipe dope (sealant)
    Sometimes a strand of tape with get under the washer and prevent the rubber seal from sitting down on the brass seat.
    This will cost you nothing. Well, maybe the cost of some thread sealant.

    Yeah Jimbo. Plumbers do it this way. Not handyman or homeowners.

    A plumber will be very careful like Jimbo is. I've used tape when I couldn't find my dope. Tape works if it's neat.

    Last edited: Jan 23, 2016
  5. hj

    hj Master Plumber

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    1. I NEVER use tape OR dope on a faucet seat.
    2. IF it was the correct seat and stem, and they were properly installed, it would not still be leaking
    3. IF the stem was NOT completely open, it is possible to damage the valve body when it is tightened in place. IF this happens, a new faucet is the only cure.
    4. WE do NOT know why it is still leaking, therefore, anything we say is just guessing, until we can actually see and test the faucet.
  6. carlegeo

    carlegeo New Member

    Oct 2, 2011
    Thanks to all for the replies.

    here are some followup comments or questions to some of your comments:

    1. Terry and Jimbo, I will ask next plumber to take out and reinstall the washer and seat, without tape.
    (I had new washers and seats for the plumber to use that were sent to me from Pfister, since that
    is the stem that has been in both sides for a long time)

    2. If that does not work, will ask them to put back the washers and seats that were taken out
    (washers were not all gouged out as is usually the case in the past)
    in the perhaps desperate hope that it would bring the drip back to what it was before, not much,
    vs what it is now, a lot)

    though I realize that if he did damage the body, as hj mentions might happen if stem not completely open,
    then putting those back is not gonna help at all ?

    3. hj, as to correct stem and seat - the stem is a price pfister and I showed him the
    washers and seats sent to me from pfister, and he said they were the proper ones for this stem
    (and am hoping and assuming the seat was proper one for the body)

    In the past, a bibb washer from a new pf stem was used since the person doing it then, who
    worked in industrial plumbing for the day job and a friend, did not have washers themselves
    and depot did not have the right size -- and this washer worked ok to stop the leak at that time.

    4 . I thought that when house water is turned back on, that some other faucets in house should be opened,
    to relieve the pressure, and have always been asked by plumbers to open those faucets before
    the main water was turned back on. And in past, doing that had never affected the work
    they did in changing the washers/seats in this shower, or other work that was done.

    But the person the other day insisted and demanded that no faucets at all be opened
    before the water was turned back on, and got angry that I mentioned that in the past
    all other plumbers had said some other faucets should be open before turning water back on.

    I left some open in any case when water was turned back on, since was so confused by
    this request and afraid some damage might occur somewhere if I did not.

    ===> Is it ok or even needed to not open any faucets at all in the house
    before turning the house water back on ?

    Thanks again to you all.
  7. hj

    hj Master Plumber

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Faucets opened or closed when the water is turned back on is completely irrelevent and makes not difference one way or the other. Saying Home Depot did not have the correct washers is also ludicrous because EVERYONE has the washers that will work. However, if I were fixing the faucet, I would NOT have replaced the washers, but would have converted it to "lifetime" units, even if it required changing the chrome trim and handles.
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